Josh Bailey scored, and so the music echoed round UBS Arena.
“Heeeey, Josh Bailey. I want to knoooooow, if you’ll score a goal.”
It wasn’t the primary rendition this 12 months. But it was the loudest and longest. And the refrain of 17,255 mirrored a sense contained in the constructing throughout the Islanders’ 3-2 win Thursday over the Devils, that the brand new barn is lastly beginning to really feel like dwelling.
It took three weeks after the Nov. 20 opening for the Islanders to file a win at dwelling, a stretch through which they suffered an 11-game shedding streak and a COVID-19 outbreak. Bailey, for a lot of it, was caught in Florida after testing constructive for the coronavirus. When they need to have been getting used to a brand new routine, a brand new locker room and a brand new ice floor, the entire Islanders’ routines had been upended.
“It took maybe a couple games for it to truly feel like home,” Bailey mentioned Thursday. “But since then, it’s been smooth sailing.”
The Islanders have a good time Josh Bailey’s aim in opposition to the Devils. Robert Sabo
And after going 0-7 over the primary three weeks at their new dwelling, the Islanders have earned factors in each sport they’ve performed at UBS Arena since a 4-2 win over the Devils on Dec. 11. That’s solely six dwelling video games as a result of COVID has compelled the Islanders to postpone eight video games since Dec. 20, however there was a marked distinction of their play nonetheless.
“The building is different but the people are the same,” Cal Clutterbuck mentioned after follow Friday. “They’re making the same noise. It was a little bit unfortunate the way we had to start things in that building. And I think it took us a little while to get it going. But it has nothing to do with the fans or the building. I think it has to do with the circumstances we were under and us trying to figure out what we needed to do to win.”
The Islanders do appear to have one thing found out, reaching deep to get better from a gut-punch penalty that led to the Devils tying Thursday’s match at two within the third interval.
Now, with 9 of their subsequent 10 video games at dwelling, it’s on the Islanders to maintain the place rocking.
“I think with three games in 25 days, no excuse not to go in there and win every night,” Clutterbuck mentioned.
Josh Bailey (proper) celebrates after scoring in opposition to the Devils. Robert Sabo
Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Sebastian Aho had been again at follow on Friday after lacking the sport Thursday as a result of their wives had given start.
“This was amazing,” Pageau mentioned. “Our first one, our little boy. Everything went well and my wife is doing well.”
The Islanders will face a well-recognized problem on Saturday once they play Alexander Ovechkin for the primary time this 12 months. Their penalty kill held the Capitals famous person to only one aim in 4 video games final 12 months, and 12 of Ovechkin’s all-time greatest 275 power-play objectives have been in opposition to the Islanders.
The Islanders face Alex Ovechkin for the primary time this season on Saturday. USA TODAY Sports
“Don’t let him shoot from that spot [on the half-wall],” performing coach Lane Lambert mentioned. “We’ve, again, been killing against them now for quite some time here. We have a plan in place.”
Lambert mentioned he had not been advised when head coach Barry Trotz will return from COVID protocol. Trotz entered protocol on Tuesday, making Monday’s sport in opposition to the Flyers the primary sport he’d be eligible to educate if he’s asymptomatic and clears protocol.
Ross Johnston was suspended for 3 video games and fined $15,000 by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for an unlawful verify to the top on A.J. Greer on Thursday. Devils coach Lindy Ruff advised reporters that Greer will miss “serious time” following the hit.